As the clinical lead for microbiology at St George's Hospital, Dr Tim Planche sits at the interface between research and clinical practice, supporting infection control and diagnosis at one of London's busiest hospitals.
Dr Planche's extensive research interests reflect clinical priorities and he ensured that clinical practice is rapidly informed by advances in research.
One example has been influential research on Clostridium difficile, a problematic healthcare-associated infection. The clinical team's experience led them to recognise significant drawbacks in C. difficile diagnostics, detailed in a landmark 2008 systematic review. He proposed a two-step protocol to overcome the drawbacks of individual tests, which rapidly became standard NHS practice.
A major follow-up trial, with colleagues in Leeds, Oxford and UCH, assaying more than 12,000 samples, validated the two-step approach, and provided important information on the links between the results of different assays and clinical outcomes, leading to improved understanding of disease. The new protocol is highly cost-effective, and has been incorporated into national guidelines for C. difficile testing.
Dr Planche has been integral in other studies of healthcare-associated infections, including Pseudomonas and MRSA. Liaison with the whole-genome sequencing facility run by Professor Philip Butcher is also ensuring that this emerging technology is being applied in a clinical setting.
Planche T et al. Diagnosis of Clostridium difficile infection by toxin detection kits: a systematic review. Lancet Infect Dis. 2008;8(12):777-84.
Planche TD et al. Differences in outcome according to Clostridium difficile testing method: a prospective multicentre diagnostic validation study of C. difficile infection. Lancet Infect Dis. 2013;13(11):936-45.